In September, the Premier Basketball League announced the Central Illinois Drive, a new franchise from Bloomington, Ill., had been approved for the upcoming 2011-12 season. And if the NBA lockout continues, they now have a star player in Shaun Livingston, who won’t be suiting up for the Bucks anytime soon. Or do they?
About a week ago, three-year NBA veteran A.J. Guyton was introduced as the head coach of the Drive, after serving as an assistant at Illinois Central College last year. Both Livingston and Guyton attended Peoria (Ill.) Central High School.
While Drive co-owner Scott Henderson says the team has signed Livingston, but wouldn’t say what the team would pay him, it looks like he might not actually be seeing any time on the floor. In fact, according to Dave Reynolds of the Peoria Journal Star, who spoke with Livingston via phone on Wednesday, the 27-year-old said he has not actually signed a contract with the Drive.
“I don’t want to give the impression to people in the Peoria and Bloomington area that I’m going to suit up with (the Drive),” he said from his home in Los Angeles. “Technically, I’m not playing. But January is a long way off. It is a longshot that I will play for them.
“My role is more so from an involvement standpoint, getting behind the team and supporting them from a PR and marketing standpoint, helping them launch the program. Anything further we’re putting on hold.”
I feel like we’ve seen this before. Two summers ago, an ABA expansion team was close to signing Isaiah Rider, before that quickly fizzled out. Going after big names – particularly current or former NBA players – is the best way to create a buzz for your new small-market franchise. But like in any business, there’s competition.
“At this point, I’m waiting on the NBA season,” said Livingston. “I have two overseas offers from teams in Greece and Poland. When the time comes, I’ll weigh my options. But it’s too early now. I’m going to wait it out.”
What do you think? Should Livingston play in Bloomington? Should he head overseas?
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